K9 by Sprocker
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
Fresh from his success in winning the February Prize Puzzle, Sprocker returns the favour with this interestingly themed puzzle. As usual, the setter will be delighted to receive feedback from you, the solvers. I do ask that you remember that for most setters this is a new experience, so please only offer constructive criticism.
A review of this puzzle by Prolixic follows.
Sproker has entertained us by a day out at the dogs. It was some achievement to get so much themed material into the grid and the clues in the way that he did. Perhaps some of the wordplay suffered as a result where a few liberties were taken but all of the clues were solvable with a bit of backwards engineering.
6 Perhaps for being in the wrong place, read this 2 crazy cat (4,3)
RIOT ACT – … this may be read in a place where things are going wrong! Another word for the answer to 2d followed by an anagram (crazy) of cat. Maybe the definition here is a little laboured.
7 Could this be host Jerry or singer Jarvis, or like me a bit of both? (7)
SPANIEL – Jerry Springer or Jarvis Cocker or our Setter as a hybrid give examples of this type of dog.
9 Dog turd could hum initially (5)
POOCH – Another word for a turd followed by the initial letters of could hum.
10 Old dog is back on tour (9)
EXCURSION – A two letter word meaning old followed by a word for a dog, a reversal (back) of the IS from the clue and then the on from the clue.
11 Daft Lab with strange menu providing source of protein (7)
ALBUMEN – An anagram (daft) of LAB followed by an anagram (strange) of MENU.
13 Slowly train a dog with artificial intelligence (6)
ADAGIO – An anagram (train) of A DOG AI (artificial intelligence).
15 Adorable little dog bred terror? Surprisingly that’s right (6,7)
BORDER TERRIER – An anagram (surprisingly) of BRED TERROR followed by the abbreviation for that is and the abbreviation for right.
19 Stupidly, a dog trainer lacking great cunning gives command (6)
ORDAIN – An anagram (stupidly) of A DOG TRAINER after removing the letters in GREAT with the cunning being a second anagram indicator to show that the letters in great are not in order when removed.
20 Finery of King Charles perhaps is flipping excellent (7)
REGALIA – A word meaning of kings or queens followed by a reversal (flipping) of an expression meaning excellent.
23 “Lie Down” means expert’s Whippet finally getting rank (9)
PROSTRATE – A three letter word meaning expert followed by the s (from the ‘s), the final letter of Whippet and a word meaning rank or assess. A pedantic point but as a verb prostrate is either transitive or reflexive and therefore requires an object as part of the definition.
24 Elizabeth’s Welsh toy (5)
CORGI – Double definition of the Welsh breed of dog favoured by the Queen and a toy manufacturer.
26 7 x 15? (7)
MONGREL – Two types of dog crossed would produce this.
27 Controversial – retreating DeVito has tip of digit bitten off by Setter (7)
EMOTIVE – Remove the first letter (tip of) digit from DEVITO and follow this with a two letter word for the setter and reverse (retreating) the lot.
1 1/16lb dog! (4)
TOTO – 1/16th of a pound is an ounce which, when abbreviated gives Oz. The name of the dog in the Wizard of Oz is the answer.
2 Could first of Border Collies cause chaos (6)
MAYHEM – A word meaning could followed by a word meaning a border. This is a clue where the surface reading has been added to for the theme but in doing so the wordplay has been destroyed. Could first is fine but the “of” before “Border” makes no sense in the cryptic reading and “Collies” is padding that plays no part in the solution. The construction wordplay cause definition should strictly be causes mayhem.
3 Rescue dog (2,7)
ST BERNARD – A straight definition of a type dog which is intended to be read as a cryptic clue.
4 Northern Canadian guide for sightseers? No, the opposite! (8)
LABRADOR – Double definition, the send being a guide for those who cannot see.
5 Top dog’s horribly vile bling necessitates breathing room (6,4)
DIVING BELL – The first letter (top) of dog followed by an anagram (horribly) of VILE BLING. The surface reading here is not the greatest. Also, the construction wordplay necessitates definition seems to me to be the wrong way around. The definition necessitates using the wordplay to get the answer.
6 Chow needs to do this to belong in this puzzle (6)
REPEAT – To get the name of a dog, you need chow-chow. The process of duplication is the answer. As Chow on its own is often used to refer to the breed of dog, this clue is slightly misleading.
7 As a dog may be after basic toy loses piece (4)
SICK – Remove one letter (piece) from STICK, a basic toy for a dog. Well done to Spindrift for diving the wordplay on this one. Using “piece” to indicate removing any one otherwise un-indicated letter would not always be accepted by every editor.
8 Capital, nutter is holding some of hound’s tail (6)
LONDON – A four letter word for a nutter holds the final two letters of hound (some of hound’s tail). Some of hound’s tail to indicate two letters would not be acceptable to all editors.
12 Family dog is an expert tracker (10)
BLOODHOUND – Another word for family followed by another word for a dog.
14 Get right dog (9)
RETRIEVER – A word meaning get followed by the abbreviation for right (already used in 15a).
16 Vagrant’s dog lead cracks over queen (8)
DRIFTERS – The first letter (lead) of dog followed by a word meaning cracks around (over) the two letters used to denote the Queen. The punctuation in vagrant’s is misleading as the definition defines a possession of a single vagrant as a simple noun and the answer is a plural and the apostrophe is not part of the answer. Of more concern is the use of A over B in a down clue which means A + B to indicate A around B which is the across clue construction.
17 Cheerleader dances with one of these two little Pomeranians (3-3)
POM-POM – A repeat of the shortened form of Pomeranians.
18 About 9! (6)
CANINE – The two letter abbreviation for circa (about) followed by 9 spelled out. The clue is a reference to the answer to 9a relating to a pooch.
21 Lizards are emerging from decapitated dog’s neck squirming (6)
GECKOS – An anagram (squirming) of DOG’S NECK after removing the D (decapitated)
22 Party that dogs love? (4)
BALL – Double definition – dog’s like retrieving these when they are thrown.
25 Upset Rottweiler is disheartened after tail is severely docked (4)
ROIL – Remove the last two letters (severely docked) from ROTTWEILER and then take the central letters out of what remains. I am not enamoured by the use of severely docked to indicate the removal of the last two letters as this is hardly a severe docking!
Notes on punctuation
A question was raised about punctuation. Here are some brief guidelines:
- The convention is that you do not include a full stop at the end of a clue.
- Punctuation in the definition is dangerous as it can change the meaning of the definition. Vagrant’s is not the same as Vagrants.
- Generally solvers should ignore punctuation in the clue for wordplay purposes but there are honourable exceptions where certain punctuation marks have specific meanings.
- A question mark (?) usually indicates that there is a definition by example, that there is something slightly unusual about the clue or that there is a cryptic definition.
- Exclamation marks (!) should be used sparingly. There can be a temptation to scatter them throughout the clues. Ximenes guidance is apposite here:
“As to exclamation marks, I am grateful to a solver who once wrote (none too politely) saying, in so many words, that I sprinkled my clues with them with no other purpose than that of crying out “Aren’t I clever – isn’t that a good one? “. I was irritated, as one is apt to be, at first; but on further thought I had to admit that he had got something. Now I try to use much more restraint in this matter and to use them only when I really am exclaiming or for a technical purpose, to call the solver’s attention to the fact that I’m doing something particularly outrageous, perhaps by deliberately misunderstanding the meaning of a word.’”
- The apostrophe (‘) can be used in a number of ways:
- When used with an ‘s or s’, it can either indicate that you add an S to the relevant part of the wordplay. “Bachelor’s” may mean take the abbreviation for Bachelor and add an S to give BS. However, it can also indicate a semi-hidden connection or link word as being shorthand for “has” or “is”. Bachelor’s underhand punch (4) may indicate B (Bachelor) has LOW (underhand) to give BLOW or The French bachelor’s workplace may give LA (The in French) B is LAB (workplace).
- When used at the beginning of a word, it can indicate that the corresponding letter is dropped in the solution. For example Confirm or ‘esitate (4) gives AVER from [H]AVER or [H]esitate.
- The hyphen can usually be ignored but sometime it can be used to alter the sense of a clue. This example is from Crossword Unclued (http://www.crosswordunclued.com/) a mine of useful articles on the construction of crosswords and clues: Shanghai duck-eating LIZARD (6) for DRAGOON. Without the “-“, the clue would say O eating DRAGON which would not make sense. Adding the hypen makes sense of the clue. The dragon is one eating the duck.
- Ellipses at the end of one clue and the beginning of another clue can usually be ignored. Setters often use them to run two clues together as a coherent sentence where it is not possible fit the required wordplay together in two independent clues. In rare cases, where there is a strong link between the two answers, the answer to one clue might be indicated as a definition to the second by the use of ellipses.
- Occasionally, punctuation can be used as part of the wordplay “: for colon”, “, for comma” or as the definition where “!” is the definition for the answer “EXCLAMATION MARK”.